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A Loss of Face for Taiwan? - 2 Taiwanese Tourists Damage Hotel in Japan

I am Taiwanese and I am working in a hot spring hotel in Japan. Our hotel cares a lot about Taiwanese people and we are very nice to them. Our hotel hopes to offer them a top-level service, and we also care about the habits and customs of our Taiwanese guests. However, yesterday evening two Taiwanese guests have repaid the kindness of the Japanese this way [shows the pictures of wrecked furniture]. Four Japanese-style doors and two windows in one of the rooms have been damaged. When we told the boss's wife about it she was so angry that she cried....

This is a passage from a Facebook post published by a Taiwanese user who calls herself MikiJuan. The post was soon shared thousands of times. Several Taiwanese newspapers wrote articles about it. Many netizens reacted angrily. "Taiwanese abroad should not do things that put Taiwan to shame"; "Tell us the names of these people so we can understand what kind of parents and schools taught them to do this sort of things"; one netizen who commented on Liberty Times Net wrote: "When did Taiwanese become like Chinese people? What a loss of face!

MikiJuan said that two Taiwanese were about 10 years old. Except for damaging hotel's property they were also seen putting their feet on the table. They had travelled to Taiwan with a tourist group, but their parents had not travelled with them. "Will our international etiquette (國際禮儀) allow us to be proud of saying 'I am Taiwanese'?" she asked. "I just hope that after seeing this Taiwanese people will think about that." She added that the two Taiwanese had apologised and paid for the damage.

Xu Gaoqing, secretary of the Travel Agent Association of the ROC, said that this was the worst incident he has encountered in his 40-year-long career. "There has been an increasing improvement in the behaviour of Taiwanese tourists, who used to be criticised for being rowdy and trying to wrangle themselves petty advantages," he remarked. 

Should Taiwanese people feel ashamed for what those tourists did? I believe they should not. 

View of Honshu Island, where the hotel is located (source: Wikipedia)

When judging people's misbehaviour, be it by mainland Chinese tourists, by Taiwanese or by nationals of any other country, we should always remember that there is no such thing as 'collective guilt'. One of the main signs of human progress, however incomplete this may be, has been the growing rejection of collective identity and collective responsibility. The individual cannot be judged because of the race, nation, gender, or religion he or she belongs to. Therefore, all this talk about 'national shame' and the many apologies issued by Taiwanese people to the Japanese are meaningless, as only those people involved in the incident bear any responsibility. The same thing is true when PRC, UK or US nationals misbehave; responsibility is always individual. Those who are all too ready to blame millions of people because of the mistakes of a few should remember it. And we should also, if possible, stop saying that a certain nation is - in its entirety - honest and friendly, 'more honest and friendly' than others. Let us talk about individuals, not about 'national character'.



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